Laptop Computer Can Make a Great `Automotive Buy'

Article excerpt

It doesn't have four wheels, needs no gasoline, requires little maintenance, and you can park it just about anywhere, but a laptop computer could be one of your best "automotive" buys.

With a laptop you can go just about anywhere, and while it will never replace the car, it could save you money on your next car purchase.

The laptop has come a long way in features, size, and price. A feature packed, powerful laptop costs less than $2,000, with many available in the $1,000 price range -- less, if you don't need high- speed technology. So, what does a laptop have to do with driving or purchasing a car? Among the newest features of some luxury cars is a high-tech navigation system. These systems cost $2,000 or more as an option. However, if you have a laptop, you can buy navigation software for as little as $150, plus you'll have a system that can do a whole lot more than just navigate. With a modem-equipped laptop, you can connect to the Internet world of car buying. There are a number of online services that offer the latest pricing information. You can also make quick vehicle comparisons. Using Autosite's service, for example, you can make a side-by-side comparison of any two vehicles. With this information, you might save enough on the purchase of your next car to pay for the new laptop. Ah, but the fun doesn't stop there. There are easy-to-use, inexpensive programs that can help you plan a vacation, or find a street, even the exact address you want. TravRoute's Door-to-Door CoPilot not only tracks your position on an electronic map, but guides you turn-by-turn to any address in the United States. It even offers voice prompts to help you make those turns, etc. Should you make a mistake, the program will quickly re- route you to your destination. The system uses Global Positioning System technology tied into software that covers the continental United States on one compact disc. It sells for about $350 and is available by calling 1-888-872-8768. TravRoute also produces Door-to-Door ($49.95) that will provide directions to any address in the United States. It provides printed directions with every turn documented, and a map of your route. New this year is an Internet GeoBrowser that offers instant access to restaurants, accommodations, weather conditions, and construction information. DeLorme, the Maine mapmaker, offers a variety of products including Tripmate GPSReceiver ($159), which uses a Global Positioning System device along with information from DeLorme's Street Altas USA to show just where you are at all times. …